General housing meeting reports on improvements | News

People gathered at a general housing meeting Oct. 6. The group was formed last year to help do something about the large number of houses needing to be improved or demolished in the city limits, and has been meeting regularly ever since.

The meeting included representatives from the Salem Housing Authority, Phelps Housing Authority, the South Central Missouri Community Action Agency, members of Salem Area Community Betterment Association and economic development director Sally Burbridge, who represented the city and county at the meeting and presides. Though not present at the meeting, local banks and real estate agents have attended past meetings.

The group has no official name or affiliation, but is composed of people who desire to see Salem housing improved.

In May of last year, semi-retired local businessman Sherman Odom compiled a list of 95 houses in need of improvement throughout the community. Some of the houses identified in Odom’s list are former dwellings that could be occupied again.

Odom reported Wednesday that 37 of those houses have seen some sort of action since that time, either through renovation or demolition.

Odom also mentioned that he is aware that GRACE Harbor has helped its first two families. Odom said that he is impressed with the facility.

“It’s well worth sharing. I’s quite attractive, it’s well done, it’s clean,” he said.

Salem Housing Authority Executive Director Missy Mahurin reported on the Low Income Public Housing Project. The program started about a year ago with the approval of a $500,000 revolving fund, pulled from housing authority funds accumulated over time. The funds are used to flip houses, which essentially means that any money made from selling, leasing or renting the properties would return to the fund.

Mahurin reported that the third house is nearly complete and about to hit the market. The first two were completed and sold earlier this year. The fourth house is underway.

Burbridge reported that the 50/50 Voluntary Residential Demolition Program had its first three properties finished and has seven more queued.

Burbridge also reported on the Missouri Regional Planning Commission’s Federal Home Loan Grant application process.

“I did hear from Kelly Sink earlier this week that there is one house that has been approved,” said Burbridge. “Even though it’s only one house, as we know, it’s one house at a time.”

“For the FHLB grant application that we have made with Riverways (Federal Credit Union)—last week I completed a fourth wave of follow-up questions. I’m hoping and praying it’s the last round of questions.”

According to Burbridge, having so many follow-up questions, while arduous, is a good sign.

“Because why would they put us through so many rounds of follow-up questions unless they’re seriously looking at our application?” she said.

Matt Milligan reported on a successful Love Thy Neighbor – Dent County event in August to repair homes in the Salem community.

“We had 17 different churches involved, 15 homeowners submitted applications and we chose about seven of those: three larger projects and some smaller ones,” said Milligan. Milligan is on staff at New Harmony Baptist Church in Salem.

The next General Housing meeting is scheduled for Dec. 1.